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|Monday, March 19, 2001, updated at 09:50(GMT+8)|
US Report Excuses Intent to Sell ArmsA US media report alleging that Beijing is building up its missiles to target Taiwan has been fabricated to provide an excuse for arms sales to the island, a top Taiwan Affairs official said Friday.
The report aims to "magnify the mainland's military threat to Taiwan" and "create an excuse for a certain country to sell more advanced weapons to Taiwan," said Sun Yafu, assistant director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.
He made the comments following a Washington Times report that a US spy satellite has detected a newly completed missile base on the Chinese mainland opposite Taiwan.
The official told a press conference that the report has been timed to provide "grounds for a particular country to justify its upgraded arms sales to Taiwan."
The United States is currently weighing up a Taiwanese request for advanced weapons, including AEGIS destroyers and PAC-3 defences against short-range missiles.
Sun, also vice-president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), warned that "a larger sale of more advanced weapons will only stimulate the development of pro-independence forces in Taiwan and thus seriously damage cross-Straits relations."
He said Beijing has to make necessary preparations to combat separatist activities, especially those of pro-independence groups.
The root cause of the tension in cross-Straits ties has still not been removed because the new Taiwan leader has refused to accept the one-China principle and return to the 1992 agreement, which highlights Beijing and Taipei's commitment to the pursuit of the reunification of China, he said.
"There may be tension at any time, and the situation facing the two sides of the Taiwan Straits is still very complicated," he said.
Sun said the mainland "will make every effort to achieve a peaceful reunification of the motherland" through its cherished "one country, two systems" policy, but it needs to get prepared for any separatist activities.
At the press conference, Li Yafei, secretary-general of the ARATS, the Beijing-based semi-official negotiating body dealing with cross-Straits relations, said personnel, economic and trade exchanges between the two sides were strengthened last year despite a deadlock in talks.
Statistics suggest that Taiwanese compatriots' visits to the mainland for tourism, business, family reunions and higher education rose by 36 per cent over 1999 to reach 3.1086 million last year, exceeding 3 million for the first time.
In another development, Chinese students and scholars at Cornell University in the United States have strongly urged the authorities not to allow former Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui to visit the university, warning that it would harm US-China relations again.
In a letter to the university President Hunter Rawlings, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association said they are strongly opposed to the planned visit. According to media reports, Lee was planning to visit Cornell, his alma mater, in May.
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